Living in Florida since 1982 I have seen my share of hurricanes and the damage they exact. It is never easy to see especially if the target is where you or your friends and family reside. Amazingly after all of these years I have been relatively unscathed. For most of us it is not a matter of if, but when we will be impacted by one of these monster storms.
Hurricane Ian was forecast to be a pretty big storm taking aim at Puerto Rico and Cuba to start with. Monday and Tuesday (September 26th and 27th) I was at my office as usual. As the forecast path predictions included Florida our office began making early preparations about how to ward off some damage if we were to be impacted in St. Augustine, Florida. We moved vehicles and vessels to safer ground. We taped our doors and placed sand bags outside them to help keep potential flood waters at bay. I created a check in list for all office personnel to check in with our Deputy Director each morning and afternoon and report any damage that had occurred. I was given a laptop to use while I worked from home from Wednesday through Friday. We are scheduled to come back to the office on Monday morning.
This past week while I endeavored to work from home and get my rental prepped for potential flooding or high winds I was glued to the television watching Hurricane Ian march across the coast of Cuba, Puerto Rico and edge toward the western coastline of Florida. There were many models of where it would strike first. The most prevalent one was for Tampa, Florida. So Tampa prepared for a Category 4 hurricane the communities above and below Tampa began to breathe a sigh of relief. However, that relief was short lived. Ian took a small jog east south of where they had predicted it would. Naples got smacked, Marco Island got whipped, Bonita Springs got slapped hard, and Fort Myers got wrecked!
Fort Myers, Florida
Two million or more people are without power, water, and shelter across the state of Florida. Many people who failed to evacuate will be found dead or badly hurt from debris and fallen structures. The process of search and recovery will be a long and arduous one. Family members outside the state are no doubt pensive and worried. Communities and municipalities across the USA are mobilizing to assist in this. Thank you to all who have come forward to help Florida find her lost souls and to assist those who are in desperate need of food, water, and shelter to be cared for. It is disasters like this where we see the fragility of the humans be uplifted by those able bodies and minds who can and do care and help from across our wonderful United States. This comradery makes me so proud to be an American.
Hurricane Ian did not stop with demolishing the southern portion of west Florida. He continued to churn across Orlando and Daytona Beach and up toward St. Augustine Florida before heading up to the Carolinas.
I sat safely at home beginning with watching the news from Fort Myers Florida until they were swept away by Hurricane Ian. I switched to the local channel 10 out of Tampa next and intermittently the local news station out of Jacksonville, Florida. In St. Augustine the old town nearly always floods according to those who have lived here longer than me. I was shocked to see how much flooding there actually was. Take a look.
I actually feel somewhat guilty about being safe when I see the media coverage of this monster storm. May the supplies and assistance come soon. May Florida rise again and be a beacon of hope for the world and the United States.
There are several organizations assisting in the recovery of Hurricane Ian. You can donate through any of these if you want to help: American Red Cross, Americares, All Hands and Hearts, Convoy of Hope, Florida Rising, Foundation for Puerto Rico, GiveToCuba, Hispanic Federation of Florida, Project Hope, Team Rubicon, United Way of Puerto Rico, World Central Kitchen, FEMA and I am sure many more. If you need assistance or know someone who does please contact www.DisasterAssistance.gov or call 800-621-3362.